The Big Sky Conference has selected Reno, Nev. as the host city for its next three seasons of basketball conference tournaments and presidents also approved to expand the tournament field, the conference announced Friday.
The tournament will be held at the Reno Events Center from 2016-18, a multi-purpose arena that hosts the Reno Big Horns of the NBA D-League. In its basketball configuration, it seats approximately 5,000 fans.
The decision came after months of deliberation and city/site visits from the tournament site committee. Reno's bid was one of two (Spokane/Cheney, Wash.) which bid to host both the men's and women's basketball tournaments together, which scored Reno extra points in its consideration. Previously, the regular-season champion earned tournament hosting rights.
The other contenders to host the men's tournament were: Ogden, Utah; Spokane, Wash.; Billings, Mont.; Greeley, Colo.; and Flagstaff, Ariz.
The decision assures both a neutral-site environment and also provides the conference the security and serenity of knowing in advance where it will stage the tournament. Deep into the last Big Sky campaign, Sacramento State was leading the men's conference and was scurrying plans to turn a campus rec center into a suitable hoops venue, as its own basketball gym was inadequate to host such an event.
Reno's hoops site is amenable both inside and out. Its capacity is more than plentiful for what will be needed, and the events center is surrounded by numerous hotels. The destination city should have no problem hosting the traffic for both the men's and women's tournaments, especially in March.
The city of Reno has experience staging conference tournaments, having previously hosted five tournaments for the Big West, four for the WAC, and two for the Big Sky.
The conference presidents also approved tournament expansion to include all 12 schools in both the men's and women's tournaments. Previously, the conference threw a six-team tournament, expanded it to seven with the addition of Southern Utah, and last season grew the field to eight after the addition of Idaho.
The exact bracket format and schedule of the two tournaments is still to be determined.